#14 Don't move, it's time to improve your home
One of the many benefits of a clay brick home is that it is easy to extend and renovate. Instead of hunting down a perfect kitchen or extra room elsewhere, why not save on commissions and transfer fees and upgrade the property you have.
Homeowners are on track to spend more on renovations this year, and the surge in demand has been good for the clay brick industry. It's given many of us an opportunity to consider a more home-based lifestyle in future.
Face it. In a lot of old houses, walls get in the way. Knock out a non-structural wall, or change a door to an inviting entrance. Anything that opens the space and creates a sense of flow in the house will increase your home’s value.
In a warm climate like South Africa, open-plan designs allow the free flow of light and air, look spacious and are an efficient use of the floor area.
Unlike concrete that has internal reinforcing, many interior brick walls are not load bearing. By removing portions of internal walling, older homes can have all the benefits of modern, open-plan living while retaining their charm and character.
If you are removing entire walls, a structural engineer should be consulted. A steel beam may be required to carry the load from the upper floor or roof to the side walls.
If you are knocking through interior or exterior brick walls, recycle the bricks for use in other areas.
Building new rooms
Extending a home gives you an opportunity to improve energy efficiency in walling, roofing, windows and insulation. Clay bricks are dense and essentially perform like thermal batteries. They slowly absorb and store heat during the day over a 6 to 8 hour period, and then release that heat when it is needed most – at night.
If you are extending your home, combine existing brickwork with a contrasting colour brick, or complement smooth concrete and glass surfaces with satin or textured facebrick.
There are several techniques to tie a new brick wall into an existing brick wall, without affecting structural stability.
If you have a basement room, consider turning it into an extra family room or “man cave” where a large television will hide the lack of outdoor views.
Keeping renovation costs down
Property price growth is expected to slow in the next year. Watch your costs to prevent overcapitalising on your renovation.
One of the key advantages of brick walling is that no matter where you build in South Africa, you have easy access to experienced bricklayers and competitively-priced bricks. See the website www.claybrick.org for a map-based search of local brick suppliers.
Renovations that increase home value
Kitchen and bathroom renovations increase property value substantially, but these are also the most difficult and expensive projects.
Expand outdoors. One desirable and practical project is a paved patio entertainment area. A patio creates a versatile and vibrant social space while cutting back on high-maintenance lawn and scrappy garden beds. Remove large sections of non-loadbearing exterior brick masonry to create a feature glass wall for additional light indoors.
Go au natural. Exposed brick is a popular trend and buyers associate a classic brick home with higher property values. Existing brickwork can be repointed, and damaged bricks replaced – so don’t assume you need to plaster and paint.
Go Green. Energy savers and will save monthly electricity bills for life and will make your house more desirable if you do put it on the market.
Clean up. If you're getting ready to put a house on the market, don't allow walls with chipped paint to go unmaintained. If you need to do more than a touch up, choose neutral, natural colours.
Refresh old brickwork with a coat of paint – a dark charcoal will add drama to a feature wall, or fresh white keeps the texture while lighting up the room.
Add curb appeal. Tangled trees, a patchy lawn and unkempt bushes can obscure views from the house and make interiors feel dark and cold. Replace a high-maintenance garden with hard landscaping, paving and brick-built planters and seating. With less garden to maintain, you can spend time and effort on spectacular landscaping.
See our DIY project ideas that you can complete in a weekend.